drift

noun
\ ˈdrift How to pronounce drift (audio) \

Definition of drift

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the act of driving something along
b : the flow or the velocity of the current of a river or ocean stream
2 : something driven, propelled, or urged along or drawn together in a clump by or as if by a natural agency: such as
a : wind-driven snow, rain, cloud, dust, or smoke usually at or near the ground surface
b(1) : a mass of matter (such as sand) deposited together by or as if by wind or water
(2) : a helter-skelter accumulation
c : drove, flock
d : something (such as driftwood) washed ashore
e : rock debris deposited by natural agents specifically : a deposit of clay, sand, gravel, and boulders transported by a glacier or by running water from a glacier
3a : a general underlying design or tendency perceiving the drift of the government's policies
b : the underlying meaning, import, or purport of what is spoken or written the drift of a conversation
4 : something (such as a tool) driven down upon or forced into a body
5 : the motion or action of drifting especially spatially and usually under external influence: such as
a : the lateral motion of an aircraft due to air currents
b : an easy moderate more or less steady flow or sweep along a spatial course
c : a gradual shift in attitude, opinion, or position
d : an aimless course especially : a forgoing of any attempt at direction or control
e : a deviation from a true reproduction, representation, or reading especially : a gradual change in the zero reading of an instrument or in any quantitative characteristic that is supposed to remain constant
6a : a nearly horizontal mine passageway driven on or parallel to the course of a vein or rock stratum
b : a small crosscut in a mine connecting two larger tunnels
7a : an assumed trend toward a general change in the structure of a language over a period of time
8 : a grouping of similar flowers planted in an elongated mass

drift

verb
drifted; drifting; drifts

Definition of drift (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to become driven or carried along (as by a current of water, wind, or air) a balloon drifting in the wind
b : to move or float smoothly and effortlessly
2a : to move along a line of least resistance
b : to move in a random or casual way
c : to become carried along subject to no guidance or control the talk drifted from topic to topic
3a : to accumulate in a mass or become piled up in heaps by wind or water drifting snow
b : to become covered with a drift
4 : to vary or deviate from a set course or adjustment

transitive verb

1a : to cause to be driven in a current
b Western US : to drive (livestock) slowly especially to allow grazing
2a : to pile in heaps
b : to cover with drifts

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Other Words from drift

Noun

drifty \ ˈdrif-​tē How to pronounce drifty (audio) \ adjective

Verb

driftingly \ ˈdrif-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce driftingly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for drift

Synonyms: Noun

bank, bar, mound

Synonyms: Verb

bowl, breeze, brush, coast, cruise, flow, glide, roll, sail, skim, slide, slip, stream, sweep, whisk

Antonyms: Verb

flounder, struggle

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Choose the Right Synonym for drift

Noun

tendency, trend, drift, tenor, current mean movement in a particular direction. tendency implies an inclination sometimes amounting to an impelling force. a general tendency toward inflation trend applies to the general direction maintained by a winding or irregular course. the long-term trend of the stock market is upward drift may apply to a tendency determined by external forces the drift of the population away from large cities or it may apply to an underlying or obscure trend of meaning or discourse. got the drift of her argument tenor stresses a clearly perceptible direction and a continuous, undeviating course. the tenor of the times current implies a clearly defined but not necessarily unalterable course. an encounter that changed the current of my life

Examples of drift in a Sentence

Noun

the slow drift of the clouds As she got older, you could observe a drift in her writing towards more serious subjects. the government's drift towards a centralization of power

Verb

The boat slowly drifted out to sea. The clouds drifted across the sky. The snow drifted against the side of the house. Drifting snow covered most of the car. The party guests drifted from room to room, eating and mingling. Her eyes drifted across the crowd. The conversation drifted from topic to topic. My thoughts drifted back to the time when we first met. After he left the army he just drifted for a few years. She drifted from job to job.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The normal in America is electing dovish candidates who promise a new way forward, and getting the usual, unsatisfying, drift in American foreign policy. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Mayor Pete’s Foreign Policy: One Good Idea and Lots of Bad Ones," 13 June 2019 The heaviest snow is expected near the Nebraska-South Dakota border where totals may close in on a foot and half, with much higher drifts. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Wild storm charging across nation to unleash all modes of extreme weather through the weekend," 12 Apr. 2018 No transmissions were received from the jet after its first 38 minutes of flight, but it is believed to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean based on the drift patterns of crash debris that washed ashore on distant beaches. Trevor Marshallsea, BostonGlobe.com, "No sign of MH370 found in new scan of Indian Ocean floor," 2 May 2018 No transmissions were received from the aircraft after its first 38 minutes of flight, but it is believed to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean based on the drift patterns of crash debris that washed ashore on distant beaches. Washington Post, "No sign of MH370 found in new scan of Indian Ocean floor," 1 May 2018 No transmissions were received from the aircraft after its first 38 minutes of flight, but it is believed to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean based on the drift patterns of crash debris that washed ashore on distant beaches. Bloomberg.com, "No Sign of MH370 Found in New Scan of Indian Ocean Floor," 1 May 2018 But at its best, the Wyoming and Idaho sides of the Teton Range cover everything from big river drift fishing to belly-in-the-grass stream and creek trout hunting. Peter Reese, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Way To Spend 72 Hours at Jackson Hole," 31 July 2018 No transmissions were received from the aircraft after its first 38 minutes of flight, but it is believed to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean based on the drift patterns of crash debris that washed ashore on distant beaches. James Rogers, Fox News, "MH370 search discovers shipwrecks, offers clues to 19th-century maritime mysteries," 4 May 2018 The location was determined based on an ocean current and drift pattern analysis conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard, the sheriff's office told KOIN. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Hart family crash: Surveillance image reviewed as search widens for 3 missing kids," 4 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While several Florida Republicans are onboard with the return to punitive tactics, other GOP members are drifting away from hardline policy. Tovin Lapan, Fortune, "Was the Old Cuba Playbook Worth Dusting Off?," 11 June 2019 The man, who was not identified in the report, is drifting in the water on a sunny beach day, as seen in the video. Joe Mario Pedersen, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida man pulls alligator out of water by the tail: report," 3 June 2019 Even our own Sun was part of such a cluster once, although our stellar siblings have long since drifted apart. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Our Galaxy Could Have 50 Billion Rogue Planets," 11 Mar. 2019 In the longer term, whatever deal is or isn’t struck will have big consequences for U.K. companies, as the European Union and U.K. gradually drift economically apart. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "Brexit Is a Buy for the Brave," 1 Oct. 2018 Wilson-Hodge said Anderson and Devereaux-Hale had grown up playing football together, but drifted apart over the past year. Agueda Pacheco-flores, The Seattle Times, "Burien teen who shot friend charged with manslaughter," 20 Aug. 2018 Tun Tun and Zhi Rou used to be young lovers in high school but have drifted apart in university. Ankita Chakraborty, Longreads, "A Crocodile In Paris: The Queer Classics of Qiu Miaojin," 8 June 2018 But a public spat that played out on social media saw these two forces drift apart. Andreas Hale, Billboard, "5 Things We Learned After Our First Listen to Kanye West & Kid Cudi's 'Kids See Ghosts'," 8 June 2018 Communication is the key to making sure Pisces and their lovers don't drift irrevocably apart. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Your Zodiac Sign Says About Your Worst Relationship Habit," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'drift.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of drift

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

circa 1600, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for drift

Noun

Middle English; akin to Old English drīfan to drive — more at drive

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Statistics for drift

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for drift

The first known use of drift was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for drift

drift

noun

English Language Learners Definition of drift

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a slow and gradual movement or change from one place, condition, etc., to another
: a large pile of snow or sand that has been blown by the wind
informal : the general or basic meaning of something said or written

drift

verb

English Language Learners Definition of drift (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move slowly on water, wind, etc.
of snow or sand : to form a pile by being blown by the wind : to form a drift
: to move smoothly or easily in a way that is not planned or guided

drift

noun
\ ˈdrift How to pronounce drift (audio) \

Kids Definition of drift

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the slow movement of something carried by wind or water
2 : a pile of something that has been blown by the wind a drift of snow
3 : a course something appears to be taking the drift of the conversation
4 : the meaning of something said or implied I don't get your drift.

drift

verb
drifted; drifting

Kids Definition of drift (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to move slowly on wind or water
2 : to be piled up by wind or water drifting sand
3 : to move along or change without effort or purpose She drifts from job to job. He drifted in and out of sleep.

Other Words from drift

drifter noun

drift

noun
\ ˈdrift How to pronounce drift (audio) \

Medical Definition of drift

1 : movement of a tooth in the dental arch

Other Words from drift

drift intransitive verb

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More from Merriam-Webster on drift

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with drift

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for drift

Spanish Central: Translation of drift

Nglish: Translation of drift for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of drift for Arabic Speakers

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